As I shared in my latest post, Transformation Starts at the Top, I believe you cannot transform an organization until you transform your leadership. As that shift happens it is important to understand that creating transformation within an organization cannot be viewed as a single-point destination. True organizational transformation will drive continual change in an iterative process that evolves over time. If that process stops, you’ve stopped growing.
First, the culture must support the journey, meaning you must help your employees to embrace change and ambiguity. In our industry many people want to know the detailed project plan and what the 22 steps are in each stage along the way. But, that’s not how transformation works. It’s a journey that incorporates a vision and stops along the way that will be celebrated, but it never ends. That constant state of change means you can’t provide the level of detail or clear roadmap that so many want or need, meaning it’s critical to set the tone of how it’s going to feel in this new environment of constant change and adaptation.
Transparency is key here. People need to feel as though they are part of the process, that they’re being communicated with and included on journey. But, if you don’t do a great job of that and don’t allow what’s going on to be visible and consumable by the broader audience, it starts to get very scary for them because they start to think, “Wait a minute, I don’t know where we’re going and I don’t know how I fit in.” We’ve experienced this in our journey – at one point we were doing some great ideation and creating a major marketing/sales motion that we believed was very important to the journey, but we did it in a vacuum and forgot that we needed to make sure our people saw behind the curtain.
Secondly, it is vital to remember that you can’t think about the process as a campaign with a definitive starting and ending point. It’s not a project launch and you can’t just move on to something new – it’s a journey. You have to be ok that everything may not be perfect along the way. Yet embrace imperfection to learn and adjust.
For example, we had the chance to be on stage with one of our clients at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. This venue offered an opportunity to be in front of key partners and peers in our ecosystem. At the time, however, we didn’t have the identity of the company fully baked – we didn’t even have a website. However, we felt strongly that we needed to be there. We took a leap and used the event to launch the company name, creating a splash page to support our vision while we continued to work on our brand and website. Yes, it was messy, but well worth it. If we’d waited until everything was buttoned up and ready to go, we would have missed a significant opportunity.
Transformation might be a tough journey to embark on if your organization, employees, clients and partners aren’t ready. Read part 3 of this series, “Fostering an Environment for Change,” here.